DIY "Lovely Jeans"

Lovely Jeans
 
 
Things you'll need: 
1) Jeans [I bought mine from f21 for only $10.50!]
2) Red fabric paint 
3) Paper cut out of a heart 
4) Bleach pen if you're using dark jeans.
 
 
-Put on your jeans. Mark a dot on each leg in the center of your knee.
-Take off jeans. 
-Trace heart outline onto jeans (I used a pencil for that) using the dot on the knee as the center for your heart.
-Place something absorbent, like an old washrag, inside each pant leg, under the hearts; this will keep the bleach from soaking through to the back side of the pants.
-Use your bleach pen to fill in the heart. Let the beach sit for 2 hours.
-Wash and dry jeans.
 
Note: Bleaching is unnecessary for lighter jeans but mine were dark and the red paint wouldn't have shown up well.
 
 
Take your jeans out of the washer and then fill in the bleached heart shapes with your red fabric paint. You can tell I was hasty in applying the bleach so it bled a little outside the outline. Take your time and focus if you want better precision.
 
Allow 4 hours for the fabric paint to fully dry...
And voila! You've got lovely jeans!
 
 
Aren't they breathtaking?! I adore them. Thank you to my girl friend Elisha for taking the pictures :)
 
My total price for this project- $16. That included buying all the supplies... even the jeans. I hope to try this out again with other patterns. Maybe something on the back pockets of a pair of jeans?
xoxo

Simplifying My Closet

When I am stressed out, I like to clean. Cleaning gives us control over some aspect of our environment. Makes us feel productive and distracts our mind, if only a little, from our problems. When I got home from work this morning, I felt extremely overwhelmed by my bedroom. As usual.

When you work as much as I do, tasks like laundry and dusting take the back seat to sleeping and showering. That combined with my need to craft often, my room was a disaster zone.

Today I decided to tackle my closet because I'm moving and my next closet is about 1/3 the size of my current closet. My current closet is already full. Meaning I need to get rid of 2/3 of my things. So I got to work on it.

SIMPLIFY

Simplify your life. Simplify your closet. Here are 3 steps.

 1. Go through all of your jeans. Make three piles. 1) Keep 2) Give away 3) Maybe. Try on everything in the third (maybe) pile and put each item in either the "Keep" pile or the "Give Away" pile depending on how you feel about it once it's on your body.

 2. Go through everything hanging up in your closet and things in your dresser. Leave it hanging if its a "Keeper." Take it off and fold it into a nice pile if its a "Give Away."      

 3. Go through all of your shoes, bags, and accessories.

RULES FOR DECIDING

1. Do you wear it often? 
Clothes are only worth their cost if you wear them often. If not, you don't need it.  Its taking up precious space. Get rid of it. If you haven't worn something in the last 6 months, you aren't going to wear it again. Its a "Give Away."

2. Does it fit well?
I have an issue with clothes. I always buy jeans that fit great in the fitting room, but after wearing them for a couple of hours, they loosen up in the hips and are constantly dragging down. Time to give those ill-fitting babies away. The third picture above, is my pile of "Keep" jeans. Believe it or not, I had twice as many before dividing these up this morning. I kept 19 pairs of jeans. 

3. Is it comfortable?
I don't care if its the cutest pair of heels or jeans that make your butt look amazing. If its not comfortable, it needs to go. If its not comfortable, you won't wear it often. And when you do wear it, it makes you miserable. Hollister jeans for example are very low cut and tight in the knees. Every time I sat down, my butt hung out and the undersides of my knees hurt from the tight wrinkled fabric. Those babies have got to go.

4. Do you have room for it?
I used to think my problem was not having enough storage. I needed to be more clever with how I organized my items. This is not your problem.The problem isn't your lack of space; its your  overabundance of stuff. If you don't have room for it, if you can't store it in a manner that's appealing to the eye and makes everything easy to find, you need to get rid of it. Live within your means and space.

5. Did you have plans to reuse it?
I had plans for a lot of my old clothes. Fun headbands from old t-shirts. Tiny hole in my boots from my dog can be fixed by bedazzling them with metal studs over the teeth impression. The dress that was a little too big could be sent to my sister. Here's the truth about plans. They are the enablers of procrastination. If you have had "plans" to refurbish an item for more than two weeks and you still haven't done it, it needs to go. If you didn't have the time to make it a priority in the last two weeks, you won't anytime soon.

 6. Is it a Maybe?
This is very important. If something has landed in your "maybe" pile even after trying it on, it's a "Give Away." You may like it alright but you don't love it. You won't choose it over the other items you are keeping, meaning you will pass it over every time you get dressed. Don't be fooled into thinking you need it. If its a maybe, its already a "no."

HOW TO "GIVE AWAY"

It's always easier to get rid of things if you get paid for them, so that's where we will start. Here's how to prepare your clothes for sale.

1. Make sure its clean. If any stains appear to soil the surface, use soap and a nail brush (the kind used to clean under your nails in the shower) to lightly scrub the surface. If the stain hasn't lifted within a minute, there is no need to soak it or continue scrubbing. Toss it in the trash. Of the 7 items I found small stains on this morning, only one had to be tossed. The soap and nail brush is an awesome duo. It also works great to clean up shoes. Clean the tops, sides and bottom of shoes you're giving away. Put items in the dryer after you've scrubbed them so they can dry while you continue.

 2. Use a lint roller on every item. Seems little and mundane but I promise this makes a huge difference in how your clothes are perceived by the person whose considering buying them. While you're taking a lint roller to your clothes, if you notice any threads hanging, use scissors to cut it. Never pull the thread. When people see a thread hanging, it gives them the impression that its poorly made or kept. This is often not the problem at all. Threads happen, make yours disappear.

 3. Organize by color. After you've done steps one and two, fold your give away items. Then stack them by color. It displays your clothes in the most visually appealing and sellable way. Notice how fab my give away items look when stacked this way! Together they look so great, I considered keeping them ;)

4. Take your items to the store! I went to Plato's Closet because its the only place in my area that I know of that buys back gently used clothes. It helps that I love brands like F21 and AEO so a lot of the clothes I gave away were right up their ally. And once the not-name-brand clothes were mixed in, in the nicely folded, color coded stacks, they blended right in.

 5. What they don't buy, immediately take to Goodwill or your thrift store of choice. Don't give into the temptation to take the clothes back home and put them back in your closet. Somebody else could greatly benefit from your donation. I highly recommend CHKD Thrift Store. Helping sick kids while simplifying and de-stressing my home? Yes, please.

When I went through my closet and took my "give away" pile to the resale shop this month, I got the largest check I've ever gotton for selling my clothes. Almost $150 for clothes I needed to get rid of. I loved it!

AFTERWARDS

The most important thing to remember afterwards is that this is a way to simplify your life. It is not meant as an excuse to go fill your closet back up! I used to always do this. Sell then buy, sell then buy. Don't. Only buy what you need, when you need it.

If you're getting rid of it, you don't need it, you don't need to replace it :)

Remember this very important, relevant to this time of the year, quote- "Thankfulness is about wanting what you've got, not getting what you want."

Now I need to work on going through some of my craft supplies before I head back into work for the night.

Happy Closet Cleaning!

xoxo, Laura

My Infertility Diagnosis


I've been meaning to write a post about the baby situation for a long time now.
So many people can relate and have struggled with this same issue and the silence that surrounds it can make the sorrow of infertility hurt even more....
So here's my story:


Ever since I was a little girl, I've wanted to be a mom.
Baby dolls went everywhere with me.
I didn't want a new bike for Christmas.
I wanted a new stroller and crib, for the baby doll that made real crying noises.
When I was 7 years old, I finally got a baby sister.
And another when I was 8.
I spent the next 12 years playing a huge part in raising them because both of my parents worked full time.
------------------------------
Then I got married.
Baby fever kicked into high gear. I had done everything right.
I waited to have sex, I was responsible.
I was married. My husband had a great job.
I had a decent job and was a full time college student on the way to graduating.
We were financially stable, had the best health insurance you could ask for, good dental insurance too. I had spent my whole life preparing for this future. I spent my whole life taking care of other people's kids; practicing. Dreaming about having my own one day.
-------------------------------
A few months of not preventing went by.
I felt like something was wrong.
Sometimes, we just know when something isn't right.
That awful feeling in the pit of our stomachs warns us.
I started to worry.
 It definitely should have happened already, right?
Everybody I knew got pregnant quickly after trying.
In a matter of days or weeks.
In fact, a lot of people get pregnant on accident without trying at all!
It happens everyday.

I wasn't that girl.
I wanted a baby. I was prepared for a baby. I could financially and emotionally take care of a baby.
So why weren't we celebrating our own pregnancy?
------------------------------
Six months went by.
Then I got a phone call.
My then sister-in-law was pregnant.
On accident.
A baby wasn't in the immediate future she had planned or thought about.
And yet there was a baby coming, without even trying or wanting or praying for it.
------------------------------
Something was wrong with me.
I should have conceived by now considering the circumstances.
I fell into a miserable trap of desperate hopelessness. 
I cried for a long time.
Weeks turned into months and we still didn't get pregnant. 
I cried to my husband.
I cried to my sister.
I cried to my best friend.
I cried alone.
I felt alone.
I felt the same bitter, solitude whenever I found out another person I knew was pregnant.
 Nobody listened. Everybody wanted to comfort me. To give me reasons, examples, give me faith.
I didn't want it. I wanted answers.
..............................
After a year of not getting pregnant the marriage dissolved.
I wanted somebody who was ready to plan and have a future with me.
Somebody who was done growing up.
 Because I wasn't that girl. I'm domestic. I like pajama pants, baking, and babies.
He wasn't that person.
I planned to move back home, stay in college, focus on me, stay single. 
I didn't need to be in love.
I didn't need to focus on a baby.
............................
Then I met the guy I would call my significant other for the next two years.
They always say you find it when you aren't looking.
I definitely hadn't been looking.
He wasn't in my plan.
And then, there he was.
And shortly after we fell in love, he wanted to get married and have kids.
A man who loved me and wanted to have a family with me?
It was everything I had wanted.
And it wasn't just the things he wanted, it was him.
We were good together. Happy.
People like to pretend that moving on is complicated. But when you meet the right person, it isn't. The past stops mattering and you just move on. You don't dwell on the past, you focus on the present and look forward to the future.
I had finally found that.
So we tried.
To have a baby.
We lived together.
He had a great job.
The military has amazing provisions for family members of active duty service members.
I got a great job I enjoyed as well. I was still working my way through college.
We made it through a military deployment.
We were together for a really long time.
............................
After a year and a half, we still hadn't gotten pregnant.
Not just a year and a half of not preventing, but of actively trying.
So I went to the doctors.
It was time to find answers.
............................
The next 3 months of my life were beyond emotional.
I was finally going to figure out what was wrong, that way we could fix it.
We would have a baby eventually.
We were meant to. We loved each other. We were ready.
The doctors would figure it out and fix it.
But it doesn't always work out that way.
............................
I had 9 viles of blood taken on 2 different days of the first month.
Monitoring my hormone levels. 
Different rules before each test day.
(Don't eat for 24 hours, come on the 3rd day of your cycle, don't drink for 12 hours, etc)
I was put back on the prenatal vitamins that made me feel nauseated. I had stopped taking them after a year of trying to conceive because what was the point? We obviously weren't getting pregnant.
Though may that be a testament to how ready I was.
I did not drink. I did not smoke. I ate well. I slept well. I was on prenatal vitamins.
For several years I lived like this.
 I was ready to be pregnant. I was prepared. No woman could have better prepared her body to be better fit for a baby before pregnancy.
 Blood tests came back within normal levels. That's strange. That was the number one suspect. 
But no, my hormones were okay.
............................
After the first month of medical testing, I got devastating news.
My baby sister was diagnosed with bicornuate uterus.
At 14 years old, she found out that she may never carry a baby to full term. She may never be a mother. She may miscarry every future baby she has. I could not imagine my world crashing down so young. Before she could even dream of being a mother, her dreams were being interrupted with a thousand statistics and a condition we had never heard of before.
She told me the day she found out.
She didn't want to talk about it.
She didn't want reassurance that she would one day have a healthy pregnancy and a baby.
She was too young to have to consider all of these things.
But she wanted me to know. It's a genetic uterine abnormality.
Immediately I felt a sense of relief. My heart broke for my baby sister.
But she wasn't going through this alone. 
We were going to go through it together.
I called my doctor that week and told her the news.
We scheduled two ultrasounds to confirm that I had the condition as well.
......................
Walking back into the ultrasound room, my nerves were getting the best of me.
I was led into the room by a lovely woman my age.
After the first ultrasound (non-invasive, on my tummy) she asked why I was there.
I told her what was going on.
She prepared me for the vaginal ultrasound. 
"Oh, that's cold! Wow, I was not prepared for that."
I laughed nervously.
She asked me more questions.
"So, you keep miscarrying or you've never gotten pregnant?"
"I can't seem to get pregnant."
"Hmm, that's the strangest thing. You are sure you've never been pregnant?"
"Never in my life. Can you just tell me? I already know. I've been preparing myself for this, for years. Literally. I've known for a long time something wasn't right. I won't freak out if you tell me.
I am ready to hear it." 
"I'm sorry sweetheart, I'm not actually allowed to make any conclusions from the x-rays.
I'm just the technician. I forward them to the doctor and she will look at them and try to figure out whats going on."
"Okay, I understand. Thanks...for ya know, sticking that up my vagina and stuff."
Luckily, she laughed at my nervous sense of humor.
............................
 I called my doctor twice in the following four days.
I needed to know.
I couldn't sleep.
I was on edge.
I wanted to be able to comfort my sister and say "It's okay baby, we'll get through this together."
I wanted to know what was wrong.
...........................
I immediately found out as much as I could about the developmental disorder (which occurs while you're a fetus yourself.) Bicornuate Uterus is when you have a heart shaped uterus, or essentially two small uteri connected instead of one large one. Not only can this cause fertility problems, but it carries worrisome statistics about pregnancies. More than a 60% chance that you will miscarry every pregnancy or not be able to carry to term. Because you have two uteri, the uterus the baby plants in isn't able to grow to the size the baby needs. And when the uterus can't get any larger to accommodate the growing fetus, you go into early labor. This often happens around or under the 25 week mark. Giving the baby little chance to survive even with the help of amazing NICU's. Another problem with the disorder is that because you have two uteri, you can conceive at two different times. For example, you can be 16 weeks pregnant in one uterus and find out that you have conceived and are 5 weeks pregnant in the other. Forcing you to chose which pregnancy to abort because neither your body nor either fetus can handle the confinement.
.............................
Finally, at the end of the week, my doctor called me and said she had good news. 
I did not have the disorder.
I was floored.
Completely shocked and unprepared.
And I felt like a failure.
I was leaving my sister entirely alone on this journey. I may have trouble getting pregnant but I can't comfort her in the sense of knowing we are going through the same thing.
I was devastated all over again.
I cried a lot that night.
I think my significant other understood that I didn't want to let down my sister. My sisters were most important to me. Even if it meant having troubles with us having a baby, I didn't want to leave my sister in this alone. Even if I was fighting through something else along side her.
I was glad to have somebody who understood how my heart broke for NOT having it.
Most people didn't understand that.
I was also upset because if I didn't have that, what was wrong?
I needed to know so I could fix it.
So we could have a family in the future.
........................
The doctor had more to say....
The x-ray tech was shocked that I have never been pregnant because everything looks great in there. I should be popping out babies like the old lady who lived in a shoe.
So, on to month three.
They wanted to do an HSG (Hysterosalpingogram.)
One of my dear friends had this done because her and her husband couldn't conceive.
Its an invasive procedure where they use a catheter and needle to shoot dye into your cervix. The dye helps highlight your Fallopian tubes which are then caught on video camera via another x-ray machine.
I was terrified.
My anxiety for the few weeks leading up to the procedure was intense.
...........................
Again, sleep evaded me as the date approached.
Luckily, one of my girlfriends took work off for the day to go with me.
I didn't want to go alone.
Being the significant other of somebody in the military often meant that they could not be there for important things like this. They miss birthdays, holidays, doctors appointments, the births of their babies.
Being the significant other of a military member is no easy feat.
It is not for the faint of heart.
It is not for the weak of mind.
It is not for the wandering of eyes.
It takes a lot of loyalty, love and dedication. A lot of trust, communication and understanding.
I was glad to not be going alone, even if the person who I needed most couldn't come.
..................................
The procedure hurt.
When they insert the catheter, needle, and dye into your cervix, you start to have cramps that mimic contractions. At least that was my experience.
The doctors didn't have much to say.
They said that they needed for me to make a follow up appointment to discuss the findings of the procedure.
At the follow up appointment, my doctor and I ruled out the male contribution being the problem in conception.
Nope, we knew he was fertile. 
The problem was with me, and she couldn't find it.
She next suggested another invasive procedure where they cut a hold next to my belly button and insert a camera to poke around and check for things the ultrasound and HSG wouldn't have picked up.
I was so upset.
Now we were talking about real surgery.
The beginning of endless invasive, painful tests;
which would leave them coming back saying they still didn't know what was wrong.

I was diagnosed with "UNEXPLAINED FEMALE INFERTILITY."

I have all the right parts.
They were working regularly.
I had plenty of eggs in prime condition.
My cycle was regular and I was ovulating as I should.
By all means I should have had a baby by now.
But I couldn't.
And we didn't know why.

We weren't going to find out why.
It was unexplained.
I couldn't have a baby.
We couldn't have a baby.
And we didn't know why.
There was no problem to be fixed.
No pill was needed to make hormones I didn't previously have.
No condition that needed surgery or correction.
No answer.
No fix.
-------------------------------------------------
 I am broken.
I have never been pregnant in my life.
The children I've been dreaming of my whole life, aren't part of my reality now.
I felt like a failure all over again. I couldn't give him the family he deserved. Not only could I not have what I wanted so deeply, but I was robbing him of his chance at having a family.
I truly felt that way in my heart.
I was inadequate.
For whatever reason, I didn't deserve to have children of my own.
He tried to tell me it would be okay but I knew it wouldn't.
It couldn't.
Not when I was broken in a way that there was no fixing.
I became emotionally distant and held it all in.
I had been crying for years.
I didn't want pity.
I didn't want "sorry."
I wanted a baby.
I lost my faith.
How could there be a God? How could any God rob me of the biggest blessing in life and yet allow children to be born into undeserving, unfit homes with mothers who aren't grown up themselves, fathers who abuse them, drugs, and/or no emotional/mental/financial stability?
.............................
I lost my faith and I lost him.
Losing him changed me in a lot of ways.
I knew that not everything happened for a reason now.
Good things happened to bad people all the time. 
And even worse... bad things happened to the best of people all the time.
I was sick of hearing things like "It was just bad timing" or "it wasn't meant to be."
REALLY?
And you think it was meant to be for the woman who was raped? 
You think it was the right timing for the 13 year old girl who didn't have any self respect?
You think there's a reason for everything?!
THERE ISN'T.
As simple as I can say it...
There is no reason.
It is not fair.
 Unless you are a doctor, do not tell me it will happen eventually, 
when the time is right, or when its meant to be.
That's not how the real world works and I know that.
I don't want false hope. I don't want people telling me lies to try and make me feel better.
How will telling me that I will have what I want most 
make me feel any better when it cannot physically happen? 
The only blessing I could find in this situation was that I didn't lose a baby.
I couldn't even begin to imagine that pain.
But I lost every hope I had ever have of the family I wanted.
The names we had picked out.
The memories we had imaged.
The family we planned.
 Gone.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I was diagnosed a year ago this month. 
This time of the year is hard for me.
I had unprotected sex for 4 years and never got pregnant. 
I would like to clarify this to people who may not have known the situation.
I was not reckless. I was not irresponsible.
I was in serious, monogamous relationship with each of the two people I was with during those 4 years.
 It was a mutual commitment and effort during the time of non-prevention.

I still get upset when I see that "unfit" people are expecting.
I do not tell them "Congratulations."
I feel that babies deserve parents who are financially and emotionally able to give them everything they need and deserve. And I think children deserve a hell of a lot.
I do believe that you should have health insurance, dental insurance, an adequate home and reliable mode of transportation before you bring a child into this world. 
And that's in addition to the financial and emotional stability you should have.
I do believe that you should not be relying on the government for any type of assistance when you bring a child into this world. If you cannot adequately provide for yourself, you have no business bringing a child into your situation. They deserve better.

For those people who do deserve to be parents, 
I feel so happy for them when they start or add to their families.
They are blessed in more ways than they often realize.
For those people who despite circumstances become great parents in the toughest of unplanned situations, I am grateful that they grow up and become what their kids deserve.
And for those people like me, I understand.
I understand the pain. The agony. The disappointment. The anger. The resentment.
I am not going to tell you it gets easier.
Every day I acknowledge my situation.
Every day, I wish it were different.

I plan to adopt children when I'm 30 if I am still single then.
Hopefully sooner if I find the lifelong commitment I hope to.
And if I do find a man who is dedicated to me and we decide on that future together, 
I do plan to try fertility treatments and medically assisted conception.
I will become a mother one day.
There is a great beauty in foster care and adoption, I know this.
I see the beauty in it.
But I do know that I am missing out on a life changing experience
 if my diagnosis keeps me from ever conceiving.

A year after my heartbreaking diagnosis, I am happy. 
Some days are harder than others, but I'm learning to be happy despite my diagnosis.